Amid uproar over Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s “pliable journalist” remark, which he made in an apparent reference to ANI editor Smita Prakash over her interview with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Editors Guild of India on Thursday said labelling of journalists had become a “favourite tactic” on part of the establishment to discredit and intimate them.
“We have seen our political class use this for some time now. In the recent past, top BJP leaders as well as those of AAP have used unambiguously abusive expressions such as ‘presstitute’, news-traders, ‘bazaaru’ (saleable commodities) or ‘dalals’ (pimps) for journalists,” the Guild said in a statement.
The Guild said it had “noted with concern” the words used by Rahul Gandhi in his criticism of the journalist who interviewed PM Modi.
The Editors Guild of India has issued a statement. pic.twitter.com/XJ8OAylXxx
— Editors Guild of India (@IndEditorsGuild) January 3, 2019
While addressing the media on Wednesday, Rahul had told reporters, “He (Modi) does not have the guts to come and sit in front of you. And I am coming here… you can ask me any question… I come here once in seven-ten days… and you saw the Prime Minister’s interview yesterday…matlab pliable journalist, woh question bi kar rahi thi, pradhan mantri ka answer bi de rahi thi, side mein (she was asking questions as well as giving answers).”
Following his remarks, Prakash had tweeted, “Mr Rahul Gandhi, cheap shot at your press conference to attack me. I was asking questions not answering. You want to attack Mr Modi, go ahead but downright absurd to ridicule me. Not expected of a president of the oldest political party in the country.”
Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley too hit out at the Congress chief over his remarks and called him “the grandson of the Emergency dictator”.
The Grandson of the ‘Emergency dictator’ displays his real DNA – attacks and intimidates an independent Editor.
— Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) January 3, 2019
“The Grandson of the ‘Emergency dictator’ displays his real DNA — attacks and intimidates an independent Editor.” “Why are the pseudo-liberals silent? Waiting for the Editors guild’s response,” he tweeted.
The Guild also highlighted the “reprehensible strategy to throttle media freedoms” through ploys such as boycotts, denial of access and lately government accreditation.
“This must be reversed. Journalists, we believe, will continue to deal with these with their usual thick skins and not let these tactics intimidate them. The Guild, as an apex, non-partisan institution, however, takes strong exception to this tendency and calls for its halt,” it said.